Saturday, October 24, 2020

Transitioning Away from the Oil Industry ...

... would be a "smaller-government" thing, if done correctly.

Of course, that's not how Joe Biden means it or frames it. He's thinking in terms of having the government pick energy winners and losers, through regulation and subsidy, with the environment as the excuse.

One need not pick a side in the climate change debate, though, to favor "transitioning away from the oil industry," because if it's done right, it's the right thing to do.

And the right way to do it is to quit subsidizing the oil industry.

Instead of the state spending hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money every year on military presences in oil-rich foreign countries to "secure" the supplies for the oil industry's use, and the state strong-arming those foreign governments to tamp down supply so that prices stay high, switch to a non-interventionist foreign policy. Let the oil companies pay for their own damn armies, etc.

Instead of the state entering into sweetheart deals with the oil companies domestically, under which the companies get cheap leases on drilling rights on "public" land, under which the state steals private property and hands it to the oil companies as pipeline easements using eminent domain, and under which the taxpayer picks up the costs of e.g. roads to make the drilling leases accessible, auction off that "public" land, in plausibly homestead-size plots, to natural persons only. If the oil companies want to drill there, let them work out leases, easements, etc. with real owners instead of with the squatter gang known as government.

Oil and other fossil fuels are probably the most heavily subsidized energy source on the planet, even more so than nuclear energy's massive insurance subsidies under Price-Anderson and so forth. I don't approve of subsidies for wind or solar, either, but their subsidies are a drop of water in the lake compared to the oil companies' welfare checks.

Cut ALL the subsidies off -- wind, solar, ethanol, nuclear, coal, oil, gas -- and let the market work things out. Do that, and oil will quickly get FAR less competitive.

The 30-Mile Test Ride ...

... went OK. I rode from my home to Bronson, Florida (15.x miles) and back.

I hate that ride. Hate it. And love it.

The "hate it" part:

The rolling terrain makes it feel like it's uphill both ways -- every long, slight, uphill grade is draining if you're rolling under human power, and the long, slight downhill grades aren't steep enough to build much momentum for the next upswing. The net change in elevation each way is about 20 feet, but I the cumulative change is several hundred. Ten feet down over a mile, 15 feet up over the next half mile, then 20 feet down ... tiring. One time I got a flat tire AND heat exhaustion on the ride back, which isn't a great memory. And until this ride, every ride has also involved hostile dogs chasing the bike.

The "love it" part:

It's pretty country (I'm planning, or at least hoping, to live out there eventually). It's a sin to not visit Bo Diddley's grave periodically, and this year I got to do so on Tom Petty's birthday. And whenever I get up that way, I also get one of the better burgers in this part of Florida at Shakers Drive-Thru.

The "how did the new bike do" part:

I think the new bike did quite well.

No flat tires or mechanical malfunctions on the way there or back. The derailleur does need some adjusting (it likes to slip around when being shifted into low gear), and I should probably spend a few minutes measuring and getting a more perfect seat to pedal distance, but those things don't go to the bike's quality.

I did't try to track how much human-powered pedaling versus assisted pedaling versus no-pedal-just-throttle I did. My guess is that I covered 1/3 to 1/2 the distance (probably toward the higher end of that) under purely human power, and all but maybe a quarter mile of the rest using pedal assist. I kept pedal assist going for almost all of the last five miles or so, with some throttle at the very end, to see if the battery was going to give up the ghost. It still had power when I reached the house.

So now I know the battery can handle a 30-mile trip. And I think it was a harder 30-mile trip than most. If I'd gone to Newberry instead of to Bronson (similar distances),  I'd have faced less than half the net elevation change, and probably FAR less than half the cumulative elevation change.

A thirty-mile ride, even one that was only fully-human-powered for half the distance, was probably more than I should have bitten off so quickly. My knees are hammered, so it will be a few days before I ride again and I'm going to take it easy for a while before the next test of the bike's range and performance. But now that I know 30 miles is doable on one battery charge even in my shape, at my weight, etc., I'm hopeful that 50 miles is also within reasonable reach.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Today's Presidential Campaign Update

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